One out of every four Oklahoma children live in poverty, which means that their families may not be able to provide Christmas gifts.
Christmas Connection strives to help bring normalcy to struggling families lives during the holidays, said Shelly Dutton, Christmas Connection executive director.
OCCC students will be taking a service trip to Christmas Connection on from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 23.
“We have 1,000 families that we will be serving at Christmas,” Dutton said.
Christmas Connection helps families through Christmas Shopping Days, which begins for seniors on Dec. 5 and families Dec. 10 through 14.
Dutton said the shopping days allow families to come inside the 16,000-square-foot warehouse that resembles a department store and pick out free gifts for their family.
She said the store has to be rearranged so the process will go more smoothly. Students will assist in that process.
“… That’s a critical time for us,” Dutton said.“We are extremely dependent on volunteers … ”
Dutton said students can expect to sort incoming donations, hang and size clothing, stock shelves and perform clerical duties.
“They do a little bit of everything…,” she said.
The non-profit organization has two full-time and one part-time staff members but relies heavily on volunteers.
“We couldn’t do what we do without volunteers,” Dutton said.
Micah Payne, nursing major, said she would like to go on a trip in the future.
“You’re helping out the community and … helping those people who are needy realize there are people out there who want to help them and they have the support that they need.”
Summer Stevens, psychology major, said she views the trip as beneficial.
“It helps out the families in need, and I’m there sure are a lot of people looking for volunteering hours and community service hours …”
Dutton said OCCC students provide a real service for Christmas Connection.
“Large groups of students come two or three times a year. There is a constant flow of OCCC students volunteering their time at Christmas Connection …”
Dutton said students are encouraged to volunteer because of the benefit to them and the community.
“It’s an opportunity to give back,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to be with other students and get better acquainted with other students, and just to help as a community as we approach the holiday season,” she said.
The deadline to sign up is by noon on Nov. 22. To sign up, choose the Service Learning tab on the Student Life website at www.occc.edu/studentlife/serviceday.
For more information, call 405-682-7523 or visit www.occc.edu/studentlife/index.